CAMPAIGNERS have revealed ambitious plans to erect a Viking statue in Wirral – in time for the visit of the biggest ever replica of a Viking longship.
Supporters are hoping to raise £40,000 to erect the 8ft bronze figure of Wirral Viking leader Ingimund in Meols Park, close to where the borough’s first Vikings are thought to have arrived.
The planned unveiling of the statue next summer will coincide with the maiden voyage of Viking longship Dragon Harald Fairhair, which is set to follow the path of the Vikings from Scandinavia to Istanbul.
Sculptor Stephen Hitchin has been commissioned to draw up designs with help from Wirral Viking expert Professor Stephen Harding.
And Professor Harding is hoping the King of Norway will visit the borough to see the statue for himself.
Roy Shuttleworth, secretary of the Friends of Meols Park, said: “We think it would be fantastic to have a statue and fitting to have something lasting to commemorate the visit of the longship.
“I made contact with Professor Harding about three and a half years ago and we got the council’s heritage people down here about putting a statue in the park.
“They gave us the go-ahead but it didn’t go anywhere – now we want to push on with it.”
The statue would be erected in an area which was formerly used for tennis courts.
Wirral will be one of the first stops for the Dragon Harald Fairhair because of its strong Viking links, evidenced by place names and a survey which showed a Norwegian influence in the DNA of the borough’s oldest families.
Mr Hitchin, who is based at Bridewell Studios in Liverpool, said: “I was keen to get involved. I don’t want it to be a stereotypical Viking complete with the horns. It can’t be passive – it needs to be a strong image but not sinister.”
Mr Hitchin has completed some initial sketches and a small model to show how the statue could look.
Professor Harding, who is due to have an audience with the King of Norway in early September, said: “The King has showed considerable interest in the longship project and what an occasion it would be if he came over to unveil the statue.
“Next year will be the 1111th anniversary of the arrival of the Vikings and their leader Ingimund in Wirral.
“We hope the statue will give people a sense of pride in our Viking heritage.”
To have your say, visit www. ingimund.moonfruit.com or @IngimundProject on Twitter
l AROUND 80 people took part in the annual St Olav’s Day walk on Sunday from St Bridget’s Church in West Kirby to St Mary and St Helen in Neston.
The pilgrimage is held each year to commemorate St Olav, the “Viking Saint” and patron saint of Scandinavia.